Schuyler Bailar was a star student at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC – one of the top private schools in the country, graduating in 2014. He was aggressively recruited by most of the Ivy League and eventually committed to swim for Harvard. Schuyler Bailar is also the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team.
Schuyler was swimming before his first birthday. His first competition was at the age of 7 and by 10 Schuyler was competing in the Junior Olympics. By 13, Schuyler qualified for National level competition, and less than two years later, Schuyler was ranked one of the top 20 15-year-old breast-stroke swimmers in the United States. In 2012 Schuyler broke his back in three places in a biking accident. He was released from an upper-body brace shortly before swimming championships. He went on to win all three DCarea 100-yard breaststroke championships and qualified as an All-American.
At the 2013 NCSA Jr. National Championships he qualified for the U.S. Open – the fastest U.S. meet in a non-Olympic year. At the 2013 USA Swimming National Championships, his 400-yard Medley Relay Team set the U.S. 15-18 year-old Age-Group Record.
Throughout his journey, particularly in high school, Schuyler struggled with issues of body image and self-esteem, often battling with disordered eating and self-harm. Before college, he decided to take a gap year to deal with these issues. In therapy, it became clear that Schuyler’s real struggle was with gender identity and that he was transgender. This presented Schuyler with the most difficult decision ever: whether to continue as a possible NCAA champion – on the Harvard women’s team – or to transition and be authentic to himself, accepting the consequences and the challenges it would entail.
Schuyler’s choice – to be true to himself – has been historic. His story hit Facebook’s top trending news and has been recounted globally in thousands of media outlets from The Washington Post to 60 Minutes with millions of online and broadcast media views. MTV cited his story in their list of “2015’s Best Moments for the Trans Community” and Buzzfeed named him one of the “11 Transgender people who are shifting our views.”
During his journey, Schuyler was unable to find examples of trans athletes and vowed to be public about his transition to give youth at least one public example. His advocacy has evolved into full-time work as a DEI consultant, Life Coach, Advocate and Author. Schuyler’s work spans schools, corporations, and non-profits with hundreds of appearances of all kinds.
Accolades include LGBTQ Nation’s Instagram Advocate of the Year, a GLAAD MEDIA Award nomination, the OUT100 and the prestigious Harvard Athletics Director’s Award, which is not granted annually – but only when an athlete demonstrates outstanding contribution to Athletics through education. He is only the 7th recipient of the award.
Schuyler’s first novel Obie Is Man Enough is available from Penguin Random House andhis first short story appears in Fresh Ink, an acclaimed collection of works by leading young adult writers (by WNDB through Random House).